Itchy and Scratchy: Allergies in Dogs

dog allergiesIs your dog scratching more than usual? Have you noticed licking or chewing at the paws or an increased rubbing of ears on the furniture and carpet? Allergies in dogs are one of the primary reasons we see pooch patients here at Berkeley Veterinary Center. While many owners are familiar with how seasonal allergies affect humans, they affect our paw pals differently.

Allergies can be caused by a wide array of substances, and they can take a toll on your pet’s health and general quality of life. To help you identify the signs of allergies and what you can do to help, the team at Berkeley tackles the topic of allergies in dogs.

An Overview of Allergies in Dogs

While you may be looking for a handkerchief for your allergic dog, the truth is he or she likely won’t need it. Allergies in pets typically manifest as skin problems, which includes the telltale persistent scratching and biting at the skin, paws, groin and other areas. While some pets can have the sniffles or coughing, this generally affects felines more than canines.

Allergies in pets come in many forms, but they’re most often found in one of these four groupings:

Food allergies – An estimated 10% of allergies in dogs are caused by food, which is generally in the form of an animal protein such as chicken, beef, or turkey or a plant protein like soy.

Airborne allergies – This includes seasonal culprits such as plant and tree pollens, as well as molds, spores, and dust mites.

Flea bite dermatitis – This allergic reaction is more prevalent than you might imagine. Caused by flea saliva (via bites), some dogs may experience severe itching and other problems.

Contact allergy – A contact allergy is caused by skin contact with something in the environment – typically a household cleaner or detergent or things like carpeting or other synthetics containing chemicals.

While on the surface, pet allergies may only seem like a case of “the itch,” they can also cause a number of other health problems, such as:

  • Dermatitis
  • Hot spots
  • Ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Infection
  • Compromised immunity

If you notice your pet scratching a lot more than usual, please call us for a consultation and examination. We can get to the root of the problem and give your fur friend the right treatment to help ease any discomfort.

At-Home Tips for Helping Allergic Pets

Once your pet is properly diagnosed and supported with the right treatments, there are some additional steps you can take to reduce the exposure to allergens at home:

  • Wash pet bedding frequently, and vacuum every day or two (including upholstery).
  • Soak your pet’s paws in warm water each day or after any time spent outside. This is both soothing and can remove allergens that would otherwise be tracked into the house.
  • Keep your pet groomed.
  • Bathe your pet once a month (or more) with a shampoo and conditioner recommended by your veterinarian.

If we can answer any additional questions about allergies in dogs, please do not hesitate to call us or schedule an appointment.

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